Arrrgh! The plot bunnies won't leave me aloooooone! Okay, so this has been done and over-done and done some more, but there's never ever going to be too much Kaiba fluff out there using up bandwidth. It's simply not possible. So Shekiah takes another whack at it. Why not? Don't own YGO, etc etc okay. R/R, my loves!
"Seto, do you have to work late? Again?" Mokuba whined into the receiver. Seto sighed.
"You know I wouldn't do it if I didn't have to, Mokuba. But I just can't get out of it."
"That's what you always say, Seto."
"Well, it's always true," Seto replied promptly. It wasn't that Mokuba doubted this, it was just that he knew how bored he was going to be, all alone in the mansion without his brother's company. It was better in the day when the servants were around, but at night it was just … lonely.
"And you can't work at home?" Mokuba tried one last time to change his brother's agenda.
"I'm sure. Mokuba, I have associates to meet with," Seto explained. "They refused to come in at a reasonable time, which is no fault of mine."
"Sorry, Seto... I'll leave you alone, I guess."
"No, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have been short with you. Believe me, I'm not any happier than you are about this," Seto said. Mokuba could hear the shuffle of papers in the background. Truth be told, it sounded like his older brother was exactly as busy as he said.
"Okay," Mokuba said finally. "I'll let you go."
"Thanks, little brother. Just remember – no caffeine after nine o'clock. The staff will clock out around five this evening – yeah, I know, early, but it's a holiday tomorrow. Which is also part of the reason I'm stuck here tonight. But anyway. You might have to fix your own dinner, but you can do that. And please remember, above all else, no scary movies at bedtime."
"I know Seto," Mokuba groaned. "I won't. And I can just order a pizza or something. Don't work too hard. I'll see you in the morning."
"Thanks for cooperating, kid," Seto sighed. "I'll be home as soon as possible. Which looks like it'll be sometime around midnight."
As Mokuba hung up the phone, he sighed loudly for no reason in particular. Well, he supposed he was just a little frustrated at being left alone… and bored… again. It wasn't that he couldn't entertain himself, he just tired of it. It also wasn't that Seto did too much entertaining while he was around. It was really more the concept of having somebody else around. He wasn't afraid to be alone, it was just lonely.
He glanced at the digital clock on the wall. Four forty-seven. So basically, he'd be completely alone in about fifteen minutes. Great. For the time being, he might as well get some homework knocked out. But he'd call a pizza first – he'd be hungry by the time he finished, and it was taking them longer and longer to deliver those things.
Once he made the call, Mokuba located his prealgebra book and a graphing calculator. He decided to work in Seto's study – there was plenty of light, and the leather chair was probably the most comfortable thing in the house short of one of the feather beds. He figured out the lesson fairly quickly, and was just wrapping up the last of his assignment when the doorbell rang.
"Wow…" he commented as he got up, though he was the only one around to hear. "That went by pretty quickly."
The clock already read 'five thirty', but it hardly felt like forty-five minutes since he sat down.
Mokuba answered the door and got his pizza. He'd ordered plain cheese, the only variety that Seto could also tolerate. He figured that his brother might also be hungry when he got in, however late that ended up being.
He forgot how much he liked pizza – good thing he ordered a large.
Within even less time than it had taken him to do his algebra, he had finished a good third of the pizza. Although Joey would have scoffed, Mokuba considered that a job well done. At least for somebody his size.
'I wonder if I should check up on Seto…' he thought to himself as he put the pizza box in the fridge. 'Nah… he'd probably just get ticked off at being interrupted.'
Mokuba piled the dishes in the sink and ran some warm water over them, which was about as close as he ever got to actually washing them. He could do laundry okay, but that had taken several years. Well, they'd wait until whenever he felt up to it… or the day after tomorrow when the staff was back. Whichever came first.
With this, he crashed on the sofa and descended to his former boredom. It was almost six o'clock now, and that made it officially evening. And everybody knew that evening is when all the good stuff came on TV. Well, some of the stuff that came on at night was good too, but that was what Seto called 'non-age-appropriate viewing'. Evening would have to do.
Mokuba flipped through the channels. Ugh – it was that frustrating time when everything was showing commercials and it was impossible to tell what was actually on. He flipped to the TV guide channel.
"Nah, nah, stupid, old, boring…" he muttered to himself as the titles of TV shows scrolled by. Suddenly, one caught his interest.
"Night of the Swamp Thing…" he read aloud, his eyes widening a little. He was about to flip straight to it when Seto's words came back to him.
"No scary movies at bedtime…"
Well, six o'clock certainly wasn't bedtime! Well, okay, it was about three hours long, so technically he'd still be watching at bedtime, but what Seto knows can't hurt him. Mokuba wavered back and forth on the decision for about long enough for all of the titles to scroll around again. Finally, when Night of the Swamp Thing returned, he made an abrupt decision.
"What the heck – it'll be over hours before he gets back in."
And with this, Mokuba settled in for a delightfully gruesome three hours watching a rather horrifying, slimy, green creature slide through windows to devour innocent city folk. Around the half-way point he began to wonder how wise his decision had been. But man, that hero-guy was so cool! He had to see how it ended up now, he couldn't leave it hanging!
But by the time nine o'clock rolled around, a little of the charm was beginning to wear off. That was when cool-hero-guy became Swamp-Thing-dinner. As the credits started to scroll, Mokuba turned the TV off.
And in doing so, became certain that his decision had not been a wise one.
"Hello?" he whispered hesitantly, somehow afraid that somebody would answer. He wanted to go over and turn on the light, but was afraid to leave his safe-place on the sofa. He looked around the room again. It looked safe enough… except for that shadow. It definitely had not been there last night when Seto was working over there. It was new. And that branch outside the window… it didn't look like a normal branch. It appeared rather more like a branch that would protrude from an especially nasty Swamp Thing.
Mokuba pulled off the bandana that he wore around his neck. Balling it up, he threw it into the corner. He ducked behind the sofa as it hit, but there was no response.
Well, maybe there wasn't anything there. In that corner, at least. But there were too many other corners in this room. He needed to go to a smaller, safer room. Picking up the blanket that rested on the arm of the sofa and wrapping it around his shoulders, Mokuba closed his eyes and took off for Seto's study. When he finally made it, he threw on the lights and slammed the door.
Good. This was a Swamp-Thing-Free-Zone.
Now, he could just hide out here, until Seto got home. Then the whole house would be safe. Sitting down in the comfortable chair and resting his arms on the desk, Mokuba looked around at the books. He looked at the clock. He looked at the books some more.
This was not a particularly entertaining place, even if it was safe.
As he looked around the room, his eyelids began to droop… The titles of the books went out of focus, and he rested his head on his arms. Yes… the time would pass quickly enough… and then Seto would be back and the whole house would be safe again…
When Mokuba awoke, it was to the strange sensation of being carried. And it was dark. His mind filling with crazy-irrational ideas relating to Swamp Things and heroes devoured before their time, he yelled out the first thing that came to mind.
"DON'T EAT ME!"
Next, he felt an even stranger sensation – that of being dropped.
"Mokuba!" a familiar voice said in frustration. "You startled me! What has gotten into you?"
"Oh…" Mokuba said softly, slightly embarrassed. "It's just you, Seto."
"Who else would it be?" Seto demanded, still getting over the shock caused by Mokuba's outburst.
"I dunno," Mokuba replied quietly, standing up and looking around. The shadows had turned back into shadows now. And the whole thing felt more than a little bit silly.
"And what was with you barricading yourself in my study?" Seto asked, putting his hands on his hips. "Wait, don't answer that. I think I'm getting a pretty good idea of what's been going on around here."
Mokuba shifted his feet guiltily on the carpet.
"Yeah, I bet you do."
"And after I specifically told you not to," Seto sighed. "I'm disappointed, Mokuba."
"I know," Mokuba replied softly. "I shouldn't have done it. But I was all alone, Seto. And I was so bored."
"You couldn't do your homework?"
"It was already done."
"Alright. Well, now that you're up, just brush your teeth and get ready for bed. I'll be downstairs wrapping things up."
"Okay, big brother," Mokuba said, clearly trying not to cry. "There's some cheese pizza in the fridge, if you get hungry. I know it's the only kind you like."
"Thank you, Mokuba," Seto replied stiffly. "Now go on up."
As Mokuba headed up the stairs, the shadows turned back into Swamp Things. But he was too tired and worn-out and upset to care. He hated it when his brother was disappointed. That was the worst word ever. Why couldn't Seto just take away the video games for a month? Or ground him, or something? But no. He had to listen to those horrible words.
"I'm disappointed in you."
Mokuba half-heartedly brushed his teeth and washed his face. He changed into his pajamas and crawled under the covers. He was a little scared to turn out the light, but he knew that Seto would get frustrated if he didn't. So he reached over and turned out the lamp, closed his eyes, and nestled in between the pillows.
He wasn't sure how long he had been lying there, in that weird feeling between immense sorrow and blind terror, when he heard the knock at the door.
"Kid?" his brother's voice asked softly.
"Yeah?" Mokuba replied, hearing his voice crack as he said it. He wiped away a stray tear.
As Seto came in, Mokuba could just see him silhouetted in the doorway. He was wearing his blue silk pajamas and appeared to be carrying a slice of cold pizza.
"No, I'm sorry, Seto," Mokuba said, feeling the tears beginning to pour down his cheeks. "I should have listened to you."
"No, kid," Seto replied gently but firmly. "I was unfair."
Seto sat down on the corner of Mokuba's bed, and ran a hand through the younger boy's hair.
"It's not right that I have to leave you alone all the time," he said softly. "I wish I didn't. And I know it's not easy. I was eleven once too. It was hard for me for different reasons, but it was still hard."
Mokuba nodded, now sitting up. He hugged a pillow against his chest.
"You have to work Nii-sama. It's not your fault."
"Yeah, but that doesn't make it any easier on you," Seto replied. "And I need to have more patience."
"Thank you, Mokuba."
The two sat in silence for a moment before Seto spoke up.
"So what movie was it, anyway?" he asked softly, laughing a little.
"It was Night of the Swamp Thing," Mokuba replied quietly. Seto laughed.
"Yeah, that one's a classic. The one where the monster comes through the windows and nobody ever hears him until he's like right up next to them and–"
"Seto, don't talk about it!" Mokuba exclaimed, tensing up a little bit. Seto laughed.
"I'm sorry, kiddo. Hey, how about this? I'll stick around for just a few minutes. It won't take you long to get back to sleep."
"Would you?" Mokuba asked hopefully, grabbing onto Seto's arm.
"Uh-huh. I would. I love you, little brother. We all just do the best we can. Next time we'll each try a little harder and it'll all turn out that much better."
"Really. And if a Swamp Thing tries to get in here, I'll show it some of the really cool karate moves. And then I'll tell it to go away or it's fired."
The two of them laughed.
"Thanks, Nii-sama," Mokuba said, beginning to feel warm and safe again inside. "Goodnight."